SEOUL, July 27 (UPI) -- A strong alliance with the government of South Korea is an indispensable part of U.S. national security policy, a visiting U.S. defense official said.
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter wrapped up his 10-day tour of Asia with a visit with top military and diplomatic officials in South Korea.
Carter, a read out from the Defense Department stated, discussed modernizing the South Korean military, noting their forces play a "key role" in the region.
Defense Department spokesman George Little said Ashton expressed "his conviction that a strong U.S. alliance with the Republic of Korea was indispensable to America's future in the Asia-Pacific region."
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are high following the December death of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il. His son, Kim Jong Un, took control of the country and was recently declared supreme leader of the North Korean military.
South Korean news agency Yonhap reported the demilitarized zone along the border between both countries this week was the target of propaganda leaflets from Pyongyang for the first time in 12 years.
North Korea, meanwhile, had ceremonies to mark "war victory day," the anniversary of a declaration of the military-first policy indoctrinated by the former leader.